It’s time to dismount from our warhorses: a Palm Sunday reflection

palm sunday1

This morning in the service we were remembering Palm Sunday. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.

The words Donald used to describe this, and the picture of Jesus he showed the children, riding on a puny little beast, apparently rather overburdened by Jesus’  weight, just emphasised to me the message Jesus had in mind when he chose this means of transport.

The Jewish people were looking for a Messiah, a rescuer, a deliverer. Yet Jesus came, not on a great stallion, but on a small donkey. We’re so used to the story that we forget how crazy it is – and how life-changing once we get the message.

Into a society, in which the political and religious regimes were obsessed with power, Jesus came in weakness. He came to change society, but his kingship was expressed in humility and service.  Jesus came, as we see in the Sermon on the Mount, to turn all the established values on their head. It is the meek, the peace-makers, the merciful who people God’s new society.

And yet how often we, in our personal, church, and working lives, seek to change things by gaining and exercising power, by cosying up to those who are seen to be powerful, rather than by seeking the way of service and peace, and befriending those who are often side-lined.

Radical Christian community is spread not primarily by words about God, but by the reality of God’s love, the reality of God’s kingdom, expressed in acts of kindness and service, humble but courageous where necessary.

I’m remembering the words in Jonathan’s text last Sunday.  In Jesus’ parable of the sheep and goats the king says  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was ill and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

When did we do this, his listeners ask? And ‘the King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”  (seen Matthew 25:36-40)

Jesus is a king whose kingship involves total identification with the poor. Jesus calls us to serve one another, in ways appropriate to our culture. And we are encouraged by Jesus astonishing promise that when we help anyone, we are helping Jesus himself. Jesus comes to us in the form of those in need, our response to them is our response to him.

Again, it’s so clear the gospel is not primarily about words. It’s about choosing to ride on the donkey rather than the warhorse – whatever that means for us – and serving other people.

And this truth about the answer to social problems being service, not the wielding of power affects not just our personal lives, not just our lives in Christian community, but the political and economic life of our nation and the international community.

Whatever the best answer to the present crisis in our nation is, you can be absolutely sure that it involves not the arrogant wielding and seeking of power, not combat between ‘them’ and ‘us’,  but love, a recognition of our equality and value as human beings, a commitment to grace and peace,  sacrifice and humble service.

And wherever these qualities are glimpsed, you can be sure that Jesus-on-the-donkey; Jesus-on-the-Cross; Jesus-risen-in-the garden is present.

May live radically in the week ahead; may our hearts be moved to see Jesus Christ in every single person we meet; may Christ in us reach our to Christ in them.







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